How to Plan an MLK Day of Service Event

Every year on the third Monday in January, we honor Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy. Because it’s designated as a national day of service, MLK Day is the only federal holiday that’s a day “on” rather than a day off, according to the Corporation for National and Community Service. Giving back to the community – whether it’s by organizing a food drive or planting trees – is a great way to celebrate Dr. King and his commitment to making the world a better place.

If you’d like to serve on MLK Day this month, you can look for volunteer opportunities in your local community, or you can organize your own project. For people who want to spearhead their own projects, it will take a bit of planning to turn the desire to give back into a service event. The following steps can help you successfully organize your day of service. 

Hold a House Meeting to Create Your Team

Hosting a house meeting is a great way to find volunteers for your project, the Corporation for National and Community Service states. Invite friends, family members, and/or colleagues to discuss areas of need in your community and how you can help. At the meeting, you can also decide who should be part of your leadership team for the initiative. Additionally, house meetings can help provide direction and create a sense of community for people who are new to volunteering and aren’t sure how to move forward. 

Decide on a Project that Will Benefit Your Community

After you’ve assembled a team of volunteers at a house meeting, consider what type of project would best meet your community’s most pressing needs. Some options include a food drive, clothing drive, book drive, reading with children, creating a community garden, and connecting veterans to community services.

If you’re looking for guidance and ideas, offers toolkits for various types of community service projects. The kits provide you with steps to follow to successfully serve your community, whether it’s by improving disaster preparedness, making your neighborhood more energy efficient, or volunteering at a homeless shelter.

Set Goals for Your Project

Knowing what you want to accomplish can help give your team a sense of purpose. Maybe you want to collect a certain amount for your food drive or reduce your energy consumption by a specific margin. You might set a benchmark for the number of people you’d like to recruit to join your volunteer team.

Overall, however, knowing why you got involved with the project and what motivates you to serve your community is the most important. Discussing the source of your inspiration with your team members can help everyone get engaged and feel invested in the project.    

Delegate Tasks

Before MLK Day, make a list of everything that your team needs to do to ensure that the project runs smoothly and that you accomplish your goals. Divide up the tasks among the members of your team so everyone has something to focus on. For instance, one person might be in charge of arranging for transportation to and from the project site, while another volunteer orders and distributes any supplies you might need. Other possible aspects of the project to account for include registration, kick-off and closing presentations/speeches, and troubleshooting any problems that arise.        

Create a Sense of Unity Among Your Team Members

In addition to discussing what motivates you to serve your community, you can help create a sense of unity among your team members with accessories like customized woven lanyards. Custom lanyards with a design that reflects MLK Day and your project can help emphasize the fact that you’re all working together to honor Dr. King and make your community a better place to live. Additionally, lanyards can serve a practical purpose by helping volunteers keep track of personal belongings such as keys and pens.

Ultimately, there’s no better way to celebrate the life of Dr. King than to give back to your community. If you’re planning an MLK Day of Service project and would like to order custom lanyards for your team of volunteers, contact Woven Lanyards today by calling (847) 424-1900 or emailing

Posted on January 4, 2016 .